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North Waziristan, Pakistan fixation betrays Washington’s sincerity of intentions

North Waziristan, Pakistan

By Asif Haroon Raja

In accordance with the chalked out plan, terrorism was intentionally pushed into Pakistan to destabilize the country. The two extreme flanks of Pakistan , FATA and Balochistan were inflamed to make things difficult for Pak Army, fundamentally poised to guard eastern border. Apart from CIA and FBI gaining a strong foothold in Pakistan under the pretext of chasing and nabbing terrorists’ right up to Karachi , the US Administration increased its influence inside Pakistan so comprehensively that Boucher and Negroponte started to micro manage its domestic affairs including local bodies’ elections and 2002 general elections and reduced the parliament into a rubber stamp. American intelligence agencies helped RAW to make inroads in trouble spots.    

Pakistan was first harried on account of nuclear proliferation in 2004. Hue and cry was made over AQ Khan Network, and Iran and Libya put under intense pressure to establish a connection. Although Pakistan refused to make available Dr AQ Khan for interrogation after he made a public confession under duress; Pakistan inadvertently accepted that nuclear proliferation had taken place. It assured USA and IAEA that network had been effectively disabled. Pakistan thought that the matter was closed but it was never let off the hook and its nuclear program came under unceasing vicious smear campaign.

After 2005, The US began to change colors and became more intrusive and difficult. This change occurred because of resurgence of Taliban in southern and eastern Afghanistan , development of Gwadar Port with Chinese assistance, Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, and Pakistan economy getting robust. Pakistan was whipped by USA , India and even landlocked Afghanistan holding it responsible for their difficulties in Afghanistan . Pakistan bore the pain of whips and degradation to ensure US support and flow of US dollars. Pakistan kept chasing the faceless enemy without a comprehensive plan, intelligence, low intensity conflict training, counter terrorism equipment and motivational program. These shortcomings became serious impediments in tackling terrorism and allowed the Tehrik-e-Taliban to gather strength and expand its influence.

Having sufficiently embroiled the Army in war on terror and weakened its institutions the US started to inch closer towards achieving its goals and became more demanding. It repeatedly asked Pakistan to do more without compensating it for the immense sacrifices it was rendering. Instead of rewarding Pakistan for taking the main brunt of war on terror, the US awarded India in the form of lucrative civil nuclear and defence deals, well knowing that instead of curbing terrorism India had inflamed it through covert means. Ironically Pakistan didn’t raise even an eyebrow on this grave development. Its lackadaisical stance resulted in materialization of Indo-US nuclear agreement in 2008. 

After vainly trying to put the ISI under Ministry of Interior in August 2008, the US exerted extreme pressure on Pakistan leadership to let its military intrude into FATA. Several aerial raids, artillery fire and a ground attack in Angoor Adda in September 2008 were carried out. These blatant intrusions indicated American growing impatience and their desperation to directly meddle in Waziristan . While Pakistan gave its tacit approval to drone attacks since this understanding had already been given by Gen Musharraf, Pak military under new commander Gen Kayani did not agree to the proposal of joint operation or any unilateral action and took a firm stand. Had this proposal been ceded to it would have amounted to allowing the head of a camel to enter the tent. Entry in FATA would have encouraged US military to keep creeping forward and to gradually envelope whole of Pakistan under the pretext of striking non-state actors. Mention of Quetta , Peshawar and Karachi as hiding places of high profile terrorists and main base of Al-Qaeda in FATA and Taliban Shura in Quetta exposed its intentions.      

While attitude of US officials became belligerent, Indo-Israeli-US propaganda campaign became fiercer. Mumbai drama was stage managed on 26 November 2008 to give an excuse to India to heat up eastern border. Throughout 2009 India remained in a highly offensive mood. Pakistan’s policy of appeasement was taken as sign of weakness and subjected to unabated pressure to make Pakistan agree to Indian unfair demands of proceeding against suspects without evidence and to dismantle Indian specific terrorist network. The US instead of acting in a fair and unbiased manner brazenly supported Indian stance.

None of the accusers took into account the hard fact that Pakistan had suffered as no other country in the world had from foreign sponsored terrorism. Its economy suffered a loss of over $45 billion and it lost over 8000 lives in the blowback of the militants in retaliation to military operations. Pakistan bore maximum brunt of foreign sponsored terrorism during the years 2008-09 and is still suffering. After targeting Peshawar incessantly, Lahore is the current target of RAW. From March 2009 onwards, dozens of terrorist and suicide attacks have taken place in capital city of Punjab and hand of RAW was visible in each incident.

Slight change in Indo-US-Afghan belligerence occurred after Pak Army’s successful fight against well-entrenched militants in Malakand Division, Swat, Bajaur and South Waziristan (SW) at a heavy price. These successes were achieved at a time when nothing was going right in Pakistan . Political situation was in a mess, economy had become fragile, law and order had worsened and Pak Army’s image had been badly dented due to an orchestrated smear campaign. Pakistan was being viewed as a failing state unable to protect its nuclear assets. Stories of balkanization or break up were in circulation and a very gloomy picture was painted. It was propagated that Pakistan ’s security forces were incapable of fighting the militants and protecting nuclear assets. US Special Forces started to fine tune their contingency plans to take away the nukes before falling into wrong hands. Indian strike formations had taken up a forward posture and Indian military had started beating drums of war.

It was under such daunting challenges that Pak Army fully supported by the government and the public turned the tide and blunted coordinated external and internal onslaughts and left the detractors gaping with wonder. CIA-RAW-Mossad supported Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is on the run; its liberty of action is curtailed. During the operations, the Army came across irrefutable evidence of involvement of RAW in all the restive regions. Besides arresting Hindu RAW agents, some disguised as Taliban, heaps of Indian origin weaponry was captured. Israeli made Uzi weapons and telescopic rifles were also found. It was a surprise to find highly encrypted communication system in use of TTP which could not be intercepted but could jam and listen to Army’s telephone/wireless network. Mossad had provided Israeli made specially designed transmitters for FM radios to Fazlullah which played a key role in expanding his influence in Swat and Malakand Division?

In June 2009 when Pak officials confronted Washington with evidence that terrorists in Pakistan were using sophisticated American weapons, the US media quickly leaked stories about US weapons missing from Afghan National Army. The figure of losses ran into thousands and it couldn’t be that ANA soldiers were operating without weapons or with locally manufactured weapons without being noticed by superiors.
No sooner TTP base was routed in SW; the US started exerting pressure on Pakistan to mount another offensive in North Waziristan (NW), painted as epicenter of terrorism. Several RAW created terrorist groups including Asian Tigers and some runaways of TTP have sprouted in NW to create anarchic conditions. Gen Kayani has rightly remained firm that no further stretching into NW till full consolidation of Swat and SW, which includes rehabilitation of IDPs, rebuilding of destroyed infrastructure and transfer of power to civil administration. For this he needs expeditious delivery of promised funds. He has also desired speedy delivery of counter insurgency equipment for achieving long term tangible results.

148,000 troops are already committed in FATA and Swat. Army cannot afford to further thin out troops from eastern border as long as Indian intentions are hostile. India has so far not wrapped up training centres and Pakistan specific consulates in Afghanistan wherefrom covert operations are being launched. The US has been told that it would not like any military role for India in Afghanistan including training of ANA after the departure of US-NATO troops. Kayani prefers training of Afghan security forces by Pakistan Army. This has been partly agreed to and hopefully Afghan officers would be sent to attend training courses in various schools of instructions.

Pakistan has also been urging Washington to facilitate settlement of disputes with India . While little headway has been made on Pakistan ’s requests, the US is relentlessly asking Pak Army to speedily jump into boiling cauldron of NW irrespective of consequences. Hilary Clinton, Holbrooke and Adm. Mike Mullen are fixated on NW and have hinged successful outcome of Afghanistan war on neutralization of NW. All three in quick succession have issued tough statements to maximize pressure on Pakistan . They see Osama hale and hearty living in Pakistan . Minuscule Haqqani network and diminutive Lashkar-e-Taiba are being portrayed as most dangerous monsters. As a super power, the US should have felt ashamed in even making a passing mention of these insignificant entities. But such are the ways of bullies who by design project a Lilliputian into a Gulliver.

The US rules out scope for negotiations with Haqqani network in NW whereas it has given a blank cheque to Karzai to hold negotiations with Taliban and has not put any pressure on Gen Petraeus as to why isn’t he expediting operation against Kandahar. Instead of making some headway, visitors from 27 countries in Kabul were given fanciful news that ISAF would be able to handover security of Afghanistan to ANA by 2014. While remaining fixated on NW, the US is least concerned about fast deteriorating security situation in Balochistan and Karachi where RAW and Blackwater in concert with local anti-state elements are actively involved in target killings. It betrays US sincerity of intentions.

Brig Asif Haroon Raja is Staff College and Armed Forces War Course qualified, holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously. He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College , Defence Attaché Egypt and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo . He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir . He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently. He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir ’ is ready. He is a defence analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defence and political matters for numerous international/national newspapers/websites. Email: [email protected]

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